9th, 10th and 11th of January

Trinidad is beautiful. We – Betti and me – spent our first day there at playa Oncón, we cycled to the beach through a beautiful road and had a stop at La Boca then spent the rest of the day on the beach. I never learned to swim and never particularly loved the sea, but I started loving it in Holland (!) where one of my favorite pastimes was to spend hours alone at the beach in Den Haag’s windy winters. It was very calming for me and I loved the idea that there is something different on the other side. This day, for the first time, in my life, I managed to float. It was one of the most beautiful feelings I have experienced and I spent the whole day perfecting my new skill.

At night, we walked around the center of the city, we stopped by a guy who sells cocktails. We will become regular customers of him in the next few nights and will end up exchanging shirts at the heat of a bizarre moment. Walking around, we met an Italian guy called Enzo, we saw him in the bus station the day before in Cienfuegos and we were going to share a taxi together but he went on a different one eventually.

Betti and I wanted to go to a cascade the next day, a trip organized by our casa guy – a business man with such ruthless capitalistic capabilities for a socialist country. We decided to – again – try and target tourists to share a taxi with. We found our victims, they were two german tourists – Matias and Jenny – who just met a couple of minutes before we saw them. We pitched the idea and they agreed. We agreed to meet the next day at 10 am. Joking with Betti, I told her that – at least – we can expect the germans to be on time tomorrow, blunt stereotyping I know. They showed up right on time the next day.

The trip was good, a beautiful place away from everything. We had amazing food, talked with the casa owner and hosts, and the german friends turned out to be amazing company. We met at night again and went to a night club called la cueva, the cave, it’s literally a night club set inside a cave, although very touristy, it is one of the coolest places I have seen in Cuba or outside.

Having breakfast the next day, the casa owner called me to check the news. The war in South Sudan was all over the news, and since there is only one news channel the whole country listens to then every Cuban knew about it. Whenever I mention I am Sudanese, their followup will be “la guerra”, the war!

This day, we went to the beach again with the german friends, and I managed to swim for the first time. “Swimming” is being able to move few meters, Betti, Jenny and Mattias were very excited and encouraged and shouted in support the whole time. It was an amazing feeling to actually feel myself moving in the water for the first time.

At night, we all met again and went together to a nice music venue in the town center, we met Enzo the italian guy, and all of us were having a great time as if we knew each other for years, not just a couple of days. The surprise was that turning around, I just found Amet – the artist from Cienfuegos – in front of me. He came hitch hiking to Trinidad to attend the 500 years celebrations of the city and to see me and Betty one more time. It was surreal to meet him. I was genuinely happy. We hugged and formed a group, dancing, drinking, taking photos and having a great time.

To top it all, the band started playing Silvio Rodriguez’s Ojalá. When I heard it, I ran to the front and started singing/mumbling the lyrics. Amet was suprised his Sudanese brother knows this song and was more surprised about how emotional it made me. I was introduced to this singer years ago by a very good Chilean friend in Holland. Hearing it, I remembered him and the all-in-all beautiful, definitely eventful, past few years. Hearing Ojalá (which is a word meaning I hope, influenced from arabic o’Allah) felt like hearing the accompanying song to a movie’s finale, exactly the type of movies I will make one day.

It was almost 4 in the morning by then, we all went out of the bar as it was closing and listened to Bob Marley on Betti’s phone. He was singing “Good friends we have, good friends we lost, along the way” …

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